Saturday, August 30, 2014

An Important Footnote

In my post yesterday I said something which needs completion and it's an important enough addition that I'm putting it in a separate post.

I think that's about as likely as the Cato Institute issuing a paper in favor of government redistribution of wealth to produce economic progress for the poor and destitute instead of the present policies favoring government redistribution of wealth to further enrich the already obscenely wealthy such as those who sponsor the Cato Institute.

Friday, August 29, 2014

2. What Would A Predecessor of Consciousness Be and How Would It Be Subject To Natural Selection?

It is tempting to go into E. O. Wilson's very brief promotion of the work of the two "neurophilosophers"  Patricia Churchland and Daniel Dennett,  making greatly exaggerated claims for their work while not saying anything about it, other than that they all agree on the value of contemporary neuroscience and the ability to draw conclusions about consciousness from that.  Like all of the people I know of who have made a name in this effort, they are dogmatic materialists who have only contempt for anyone who questions their basic materialist fundamentalism and the stories they make up on that basis.  Also typical, he summarily brushes aside their opponents with derisive terms that don't address their objections ("mysterians"). His claim that Churchland and Dennett, "have helped to demonstrate, for example the ancillary nature of morality and rational thought*," really means that they are often claimed, by their fellow materialists, to have succeeded in squeezing those into an adaptationist scenario under natural selection.  Being more familiar with Dennett than Churchland, I would say that what he does is reduce and invent novel definitions of things which are not explainable through his extreme adaptationist interpretation of natural selection in order to fit his coinages into natural selection, where the actual concepts and experiences of those things have been known to not fit into natural selection from the start.

Indeed, Wilson kind of notes that problem while both skimming over it to pretend that the problems don't matter and not really noting that his oracle, Charles Darwin, was well aware of the problem his theory faced in dealing with thought.

Neuroscientists, to their credit, have no illusions about the difficulty of the task. They agree with Darwin that the mind is a citadel that cannot be taken by frontal assault.  They have set out instead to break through to its inner recesses with multiple probes along the ramparts, opening breaches here and there;  by technical ingenuity and force they hope to enter and explore wherever they find space to maneuver.

I will refer to my recent post of a letter by Darwin in which he goes much farther than Wilson would want to take seriously in the implications of the idea that our thinking is the mere ancillary result of natural selection.  It would empty our ideas, even our science of any possible value of truth or objective significance.

Materialism removes any possibility of significance being a real quality of anything. What the materialist view of life boils down to is the devaluing of all aspects of it, us included, making us no different from any other locus of chemical reactants reacting.  Thoughts would have no more truth value than the digestion of lactose or metals oxidizing in the atmosphere.   The theory of Natural Selection, never mind its mere ancillaries such as Sociobiology and "neueophilosophy" would not escape that demotion and would have, in fact, the same lack of truth value as the most retrograde aspects of the "postmodernism," "mysterianism" that Wilson scoffs at or, for that matter, statements issued by ISIS or contained in this weeks National Enquirer.   Wilson's school of thought removes any legitimate claims that it or any academic topic has to the attention of a public entertained or enthralled by other ideas.

How the quest for reproduction by molecules and their hosts, living organisms, even conscious animals, can be real or ever have arisen in such a universe is a puzzle that came to me as I read Wilson's article.  How do you explain why molecules before life would have ever had an urge to reproduce if nothing matters?[See update]  Why our earliest ancestor would have reproduced, perhaps at great risk to its continued existence in the earliest acts of reproduction,  promises to be a fun thing to think about.  It feels like an idea which could confound the likes of Dennett and Wilson, especially if you brushed aside their mild derision and airy dismissal and pressed the issue.

Furthermore, the entire description of the mind as a "citadel" to be taken by fMRI and other imaging is diverting as a narrative metaphor but it is absurd considering that any such attempt will have to begin from within that very "citadel" using whatever "defenses" it has hidden within those very recesses which the minds of neuroscientists and others will strive to take it from.   The absurdly inadequate as well as opportunistic metaphor of taking a castle will, as is typical of the psychological use of metaphor, become the frame of the intellectual attempt while forgetting that it is an shoddy, rude and inadequate metaphor.  The metaphor will become the message which was predetermined by the intentions of those waging the campaign.  Does anyone have any doubt that Wilson, Churchland, or Dennett and their fellow materialists will never produce any findings that contradict their a priori  intent of "finding" a material explanation of the mind?   I think that's about as likely as the Cato Institute issuing a paper in favor of government redistribution of wealth to produce economic progress for the poor and destitute.


Perhaps even more problematic for the attempt to explain consciousness as a product of molecular action as worked on by natural selection is that it requires there to be some sort of pre-consciousness that developed such as the eye is believed to have developed from some kind of light sensitive nerves at the skin. What that precursor could have been is far harder to imagine and define than a physical nerve that is sensitive to light.

Consciousness isn't a divisible or reducible phenomenon, it is a direct experience of itself, the means through which we experience anything or think or speak about it.  We talk about "semi-consciousness" to refer to our occasional muddied thinking but any conscious experience is consciousness.  You are either conscious or you are not, you aren't half-conscious because any consciousness is an experience of consciousness.  There is no getting around the fact that consciousness would have had to come about full blown.  A light sensitive bacterium that can be seen to react to light can justly be considered to be conscious of the light. How could you explain its clearly intentional action on any other basis?  Of course that requires us to imagine, with our human minds, what it's like to be a bacterium which, I submit, is unlikely to be accurate because we are not bacteria, living the lives of bacteria in their habitat.  But the fact that they can react to external stimuli, taking action that is, clearly, good according to them in response to it, justifies considering them to be conscious.  Any attempt to define that bacterial consciousness will inevitably not really address it, it will merely be an attempt for us to match it to a human narrative based on human experiences with no possible verification from the bacteria that we got it right.  And that would be easy compared to coming up with a comprehensible precursor to consciousness that had real effects in the world and lives of creatures we must imagine in their entirety because we have no specimens of pre-conscious, behaving organisms.  We couldn't even identify any alive today.

Yet the effort to turn consciousness into a mere product of molecular action, favoring their reproductive success, the development of the quest for reproductive success, requires us to go much, much farther and imagine some kind of unimaginable predecessor experience that was not experienced but which, through natural selection, became consciousness.  If Wilson would like to describe such a state of being I'd be curious to see what he comes up with, though I doubt it would be even as relevant to our experience of consciousness than direct democracy in a town meeting is to life in an ant colony. Any such explanation of this "pre-conscious" "pre-experience" will be a merely imaginary construct motivated by materialist fundamentalism and professional opportunism.   How this "pre-consciousness" removed from experience of an organism would work in a scheme of reproductive success in natural selection would have to wait for an explaination of what it would be, though I suspect the cart would come before the eohippus in whatever is written.

And if you think that last sentence was extreme, it is less extreme than the effort to chop away at the experience and phenomenon of consciousness because you insist that everyone must begin with natural selection and work backward to force all of life into that, already, artificial construct.  Which is what Wilson, Dennett and Churchland do.  In that they ignore the fact that it is consciousness that precedes all intellectual activity, it precedes the invention of natural selection, something which does not have an independent existence that comes before Darwin's idea, which is the product of consciousness.

*  Consider what that sentence could mean, and it is hardly a well thought out concept or statement.   What would it mean for any intellectual, indeed scientific or philosophical exposition, if rational thought were merely "ancillary" to some unspecified something.   Despite the attitude we are supposed to take in respect to such intellectual products, that would make any academic enterprise dependent on reason to be even lower down on the imagined hierarchy.  Only materialists never seem to take that into consideration.

Update:  I don't believe there is intentionality in molecules, I don't even believe molecules within living organisms have intentions, that's a claim derived from Wilson's Sociobiology, though it's been implied by natural selection in its atheist, materialist fundamentalist interpretation from the start.  I am merely pointing out the consequences of believing what Wilson et al are claiming.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

E.O. Wilson Against Free Will: 1. To a Myrmecologist Everything Is Ants

I  have read the essay, "On Free Will and how the brain is like a colony of ants," by E.O Wilson, which appears in this months' Harpers magazine and am going to be taking some time with it.  The reason for that is that Wilson has managed to include so much sloppy thinking stated so arrogantly and with a pose of authoritative difinitude and philosophical ineptitude that it is breathtaking that a major magazine would publish it.  That an academician of his standing can write something like it looks like a milestone in the march of intellectual decadence mistaking itself as a golden age.

It was tempting to point out that Wilson's problems begin as soon as the third sentence of his text but looking again at the title that would put off the critique far too long.   I recall someone pointing out, back in the 1960s, when he still had a position in science of the kind that Wilson does today, that B. F. Skinner's work with pigeons in boxes was the obvious frame through which he looked at everything, including the human mind.  Back then Skinner's model of thought was  just as much science as Wilson's is today.  But it was science which was rather definitively demolished by a philosophical look at it.  His social and cultural influence lasted as long as he lived due to the repute that a position as a senior faculty member of Harvard and then an emeritus professor can create and sustain among those who aren't particularly deep thinkers.   I would guess that his greatest influence came after behaviorism was debunked due to his ability to turn out a couple of best selling books.

I will be rash enough to doubt that Wilson's ant metaphor for the brain will last any more than Skinners pigeon metaphor did.  That both of those were the products of a larger materialist monist ideological foundation, which it also shared with such other discontinued models of the mind as that of the Freud might start to imply that problem with those cathedrals of science are built on wet sand that inevitably rots.  I doubt that any of them tell us much of anything except for the preferred framing of the men who produced them.  That all of them enjoyed the full status of science in academic, social and even legal contexts is, as well, testimony to the fact that repute in science is no guarantee of reliability or even durability, though it can, sometimes, produced institutions which share more with established churches than most of those inside them would care to have pointed out.

As I said the serious problems begin with the first three sentences of Wilson's text.

Neuroscientists who work on the human brain seldom mention free will. Most consider it a subject better left, at least for the time being, to philosophers. Meanwhile, their sights are set on discovering the physical basis of consciousness, of which free will is a part.

Being such a rank amateur in philosophy that I would object if someone even called me an amateur, a philospher might point out that there are some rather glaring problems with an assertion that free will can have a physical basis, especially a physical basis of kind which science is designed to study.  This is due to the dependence of scientific explanations on relationships within nets of causality, in which every result is the product of definable and set deterministic precedents and their determined actions.  Such a method of study could look for something outside of that net of causality and never find it and free will, by definition, would have to be free of that net.   If, as Wilson unsurprisingly insists, that anything legitimate to be said on the subject would have to be said by science, then, of course, free will can't be more than a delusion.   Anything called "free will" or "consciousness" for that matter, which can't be detected with science could not be redefined to fit into science and retain its most important and salient features.

To definitely say that consciousness has a physical basis - in itself unproven and likely unprovable - is subject to the same problems as basing free will on physical causation.   I would hope that a competent and free thinking philosopher, honest enough to be trying to discern the truth or reality instead of propping up a preferred ideology would point these problems out.  And a competent philosopher could probably come up with aspects of that problem which I have not even noticed.   I will remind any neuroscientist, materialist philosopher, not to mention emeritus myrmecologist of the dangers that philosophical short cuts made for the behaviorism which Wilson's Sociobiology succeeded.  Though I don't think you could really say that it supplanted the earlier, defunct science so much as filled the vacuum left by its demise.

Wilson then says

No scientific quest is more important to humanity. 

iven the piece I reposted here last week in which I identified the Holocaust (and other genocides by dictatorships) as the most important moral event of the last century and the fact that it was brought about by people who either held that free will was a delusion, impossible, not important or bad, I would agree with a statement that promoting the belief and respect for it, as well as other metaphysical attributes of the mind, is among the most important quests of humanity.

Given the fact that every, single time that scientists insist that it is their business to trap consciousness or, worse, free will,  in a net of causation and mount it as a pinned specimen for display and further study, that they end up damaging that belief, I wish they would cut it out of their consideration.  It is especially troubling to have Wilson, the world's most famous ant man looking into the question because we have already seen his framing and how that presents human life and societies.  His practice in Sociobiology and its successor, evolutionary psychology, to assert shared "traits" from the social insects manifested from them, clear across the entire animal taxonomy, in human beings, even without any real evidence that there are "behaviors" or that "behaviors" asserted are actually the same in species no more closely related than the hundreds of millions of years of evolution from a theoretical shared ancestor* is hardly a scientific determination,  they are more the products of willful narration than of actual links based on rigorous evidence.

Wilson then asserts that:

The physical basis of of consciousness won't be an easy phenomenon to grasp. The human brain is the most complex system, either organic or inorganic, known in the universe.

He goes on to present the rudest of schematic descriptions of the neuro-anatomy of brains, itself based on the, presumably, preliminary knowledge we have of that "most complex system... known in the universe".  Even more problematically, he asserts how those are asserted to work on the basis of that schematic knowledge.  If he is aware at the problems of asserting anything like that on the basis of present day knowledge of the brain, he doesn't seem to take those seriously.  If he is aware that all of the assertions made about how "the brain works" are, as well, based in ideological if not philosophical assumptions - his own materialism, for example - I don't see any evidence of that, whatsoever.   The extent to which that flow chart could be the product of imagination based on ideology and required framing within the scientific and academic establishment is worth considering, certainly if the question is as important as Wilson says it is.  But that is hardly ever done, even by philosophers and never, to my knowledge, by neuroscientists.  But, considering the fact that the crude materialism that is the foundation of all of this article was shown to be fatally problematic in physics and how that is ignored by those who invoke physics, I'm not waiting up nights for them to understand the problem of their assertions.

I have increasingly come to believe that a lot of stuff, even very important stuff, within science is the artifact of framing and ideology, desiring to fill in gaps in knowledge and entire areas of human experience.  Some of those, I've come to conclude, exist only in the imagination of scientists.  I have become skeptical that the mother of all such ideas, natural selection, is a real thing, believing it is merely a required lens through which members of the educated class are required to view evolutionary science, biology and, as can be seen in this topic, the utterly ineffable matter of the consciousness which is the basis of everything we think, including thinking about these things, including the thinking of Wilson and his fellow ideologues.  As a matter of academic legalism, it is also the vocabulary through which everything said about such things is required to be expressed, on pain of disrepute and expulsion.  Even using a different vocabulary will be considered incomprehensible and heretical.

I think a look at discontinued science might teach us a lot about how such required thoughts come into being, gain currency and then become a required means of understanding,  only to, then, be overturned**.   I look at the list of discontinued science from the past century and those sciences today which, being based on anything from a total lack of evidence to study, to ideologically framed evidence, to the ideologically framed creations based on ideological framing, and even the further manipulation of those creations and find that the dogma of materialism is, in every case, the foundation and the motive for it.  I went through "exobiology" yesterday and I've gone through others, abiogenesis, .... on the basis of the outrageous assertions of certitude based on scant to no evidence in those and Wilson's assertions in this article, I will predict that all of those will, in the future, be as forgotten as any now ditched idea is.

Considering the title of his piece, Wilson says something,  incredibly unaware of its irony.

Philosophers have labored for more than two thousand years to explain consciousness.  Innocent of biology, however, they have for the most part gotten nowhere.  I don't believe it too harsh to say that the history of philosophy when boiled down consists mainly of failed models of the brain.

Call me a skeptic but I, somehow, think that long after the 20th century world's foremost ant specialist's model of the brain has long been relegated to a quaint curiosity, if not a joke, people will still find even such things as Plato's cave and large parts of the Buddhist psychology useful and relevant.  For Wilson to make such a statement in an article with his title is an example of incredible arrogance of the kind that only the truly unaware and pathologically narrowly focused can have.

In the episode of WKRP in Cinncinati in which Dr. Joyce Brothers played the jeans magnate, "Vicky von Vicky," she walks in on three of the regulars rather bizarrely kneeling on a hotel floor in her jeans - they're hoping to nail down an advertising account.  As they are trying to explain their behavior she says,
"All I see are three pairs of jeans on the floor".   Which is as much if not more of an insight into how the human mind might operate as anything I read in Wilson's article.

*  Considering that those "behaviors" today are actually separated by two divergent lines of evolutionary history, those hundreds of millions of years should be multiplied by two,  I'd think.

** Physics has produced a good example to study, the luminiferous ether.   
I move through this “luminiferous ether” as if it were nothing. But were there vibrations with such frequency in a medium of steel or brass, they would be measured by millions and millions and millions of tons’ action on a square inch of matter. There are no such forces in our air. Comets make a disturbance in the air, and perhaps the luminiferous ether is split up by the motion of a comet through it. So when we explain the nature of electricity, we explain it by a motion of the luminiferous ether. We cannot say that it is electricity. What can this luminiferous ether be? It is something that the planets move through with the greatest ease. It permeates our air; it is nearly in the same condition, so far as our means of judging are concerned, in our air and in the inter-planetary space. The air disturbs it but little; you may reduce air by air-pumps to the hundred thousandth of its density, and you make little effect in the transmission of light through it. The luminiferous ether is an elastic solid, for which the nearest analogy I can give you is this jelly which you see, 5 and the nearest analogy to the waves of light is the motion, which you can imagine, of this elastic jelly, with a ball of wood floating in the middle of it. Look there, when with my hand I vibrate the little red ball up and down, or when I turn it quickly round the vertical diameter, alternately in opposite directions;—that is the nearest representation I can give you of the vibrations of luminiferous ether.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life Is Good So Is Thinking So Is Thinking It Through

I am a bit behind in answering my hate mail/hate comments.  It's one of the benefits of getting hate messages, you don't feel an obligation to answer it unless you want to.  And one of the benefits of having your computer down for several days.  It's back, for now.

One recently found message in my trash asserts that "life exists on many planets ... life is a result of physics not of your imaginary friend in the sky", along with some rather predictable invective.

How does that follow?

I have dealt quite definitively, I assert,  with the question of "other life" in the universe based on present day knowledge.   The chances of there being life on any planet is known to be at least one in whatever the number of possible venues of life in the universe there are.   If you want to consider the possibility of life in places other than planets, you're just stupendously increasing both the range of possible numbers of those variables and the unlikelihood of knowing what those are.

At present we know that to be 1/p in which 1 is the known number of places in which life is known to exist and p is whatever whole number, including 1 where life can possibly arise in the universe.  At present we know that number can be 1/1 and it is possible that is the correct number for that probability.  In fact, that is the only possible value of that quotient that we know is possible, today.   I would say that anyone who thinks people, unaided by a vastly more able intelligence, could get that to be even 2/2 would be wildly optimistic.  I doubt that anyone short of God could know what the figure in the denominator of that fraction would be.  I doubt anyone short of that universal intelligence would have any way of knowing what the number or even types of locations in which life could arise in the universe is.  I think if you believe that likely far larger number is going to be known by people you are even more wildly optimistic.  One of the biggest problems in discovering it would be that we would have to know all possible life forms and the conditions under which those arise.  Which is a practical impossibility because we will never know if we do know all of those.

As to the discovery of "other life" killing off God, I don't see how that follows. Not at all.  It doesn't even kill off the God of the Hebrew scriptures.

If, as is widely believed, God willed there to be life on our one planet, God might want to use some of the rest of creation to will more life into being.   In the Genesis creation story God is said to have looked on the creation of life several times and seen "that it was good".

In the King James translation of Psalm 30 it says "in His favor is life".   Despite what some self-appointed bully boy of fundamentalism said to get his name in the news (Ken Ham) the idea that God might have found life so good that it is an intrinsic part of the physical universe also named as His creation that life will arise, over and over again, in many forms, with many purposes that we can't comprehend because we don't happen to be God.

Despite what current atheists repeat out of ignorance, the entire text of The Bible asserts, over and over again that life is good, that life is part of the purpose of God and that the diversity of life is good. The idea that God finds life to be good is entirely consistent with there being life in other places in the universe.

I look at what some numbnuts like Ken Hamm says about scriptures and see that what he said says everything about what his preferences are and not what is said in the scriptures.  I look at atheist assertions about what the finding of "other life" means and see everything about what their preferences are, not what a conclusive conclusion that could be drawn from that would be.

No, your claim, and it is one that other pop-atheists have asserted, that finding "other life" would be the nail in the coffin of God is wishful thinking on your part. If you bothered to think about the question instead of making wild claims of the certainty of "other life" being there when we have no evidence that is true, you might stop wasting your time on such flawed ideas.

So, the real answer to your assertions is that no one knows if there is "other life" and no one knows what that existing or not existing implies about the "existence" of God.  But one thing is sure, anyone who claims what you did hasn't thought their position through.

Update:  The fact is that the existence of life on one planet, ours, is an enormous problem for atheists because they can't explain its existence.  When you mix the human intelligence and consciousness that they use to think about these things into the problem, it's a lot harder for materialists, atheists, than it is for religious people.  That is why atheists expend so much effort in to turning consciousness into the same thing as lifeless chemistry, because life and conscious life is a far bigger problem for them than it is for non-materialists and, especially, non-atheists.  I haven't looked at it yet, but there is an article in the Harpers magazine a friend just gave me in which E.O. Wilson addresses the question of free will.  I, somehow, doubt he's going to entertain the idea that it is at all possible because such a thing is not possible in materialism.   I might bother reading it within the next few days and may go through what he says, if it's any different from what I've read from atheists over and over again.   Even as expansive an atheist as Sartre held Les Jeux Sont Faits.

Monday, August 25, 2014

More Problems

I'm going to have to have a real computer person try to fix this thing so I might or might not be posting for the next few days.  It's decidedly screwed up, giving that irritating blue screen that says it Windows couldn't start and it's trying to fix the problem.  Yeah, like Windows 8 did on the other computer I've tried.  I thought I'd get used to Windows 8 but I hear a rumor that Microsoft is bailing on it, already. Jerks.  

Sorry about that but some days I hate my computer.

Update:  I've answered that question before, the reason I haven't asked people to give me money or buy me things was said best by the late Quentin Crispe in The Naked Civil Servant,  I don't ask strange men for things because I don't think they'd give it to me.  For better or worse, this effort relies on my ability to pay for the overhead. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Play Left Invades Ferguson

This article on Mother Jones, yesterday, lists some of the outside groups who have shown up in Ferguson, Missouri, some helpful, some grotesquely irresponsible, idiotic "revolutionary" opportunists so incredibly stupid that they seem to believe that inciting violence in Ferguson will spark the glorious revolution that will bring their Communist party to power, the bulwark of the glorious millennium when that old dialectic points to them as the end point of material existence and declares "you rule, man".  If you think that sentence is overblown, all I can say is you can't read much of their material without sustaining at least temporary damage*.   The various groups, most of whom don't care at all about the residents of that town and the occupation by a homicidal and fascistic police force, will stay only as long as they can turn the protests by the people who live there into a media carnival.   For which they can go to hell as far as I'm concerned.

Some of them, such as the incredibly stupid political cult, Bob Avakian's Communist Revolutionary Party, are eager Maoists.  You don't have to imagine how Mao would have handled any such demonstrations in the country he dictated to,  he'd have killed all of them.  As bad as the police in Ferguson are, as fascistic as their tactics are,  they were under some constraints.  I've noted before how the drooling revolutionaries of Bob's army hope to ignite the world wide revolution they believe is just around the corner.  And they have decided to make Ferguson their beachhead, whether or not the people who live there agree.  In real life, I doubt they could conduct a special town meeting without it turning into a brawl brought on by competing personalities trying to grab the mic, turning the meeting into a war of competing and resenting factions.   I would guess that they really believe that they are always on the brink of calling their fearless leader back from his self-imposed exile in France to some place such as Ferguson to take charge of the revolution.  If he hasn't since stopped breathing since I began writing this, I would guess that the Larouchies imagine something similar.

A rule of thumb about these kinds of groups that come in and try to hijack high profile local protests is that any of them that advocate or encourage violence are not in it for the benefit of the people who live there.  Those people will leave, the people who live there will be the ones who have to live with the aftermath of their exciting and titillating violence.  This is especially true when there is some intellectual program thought up in some other place, like San Francisco or by a bunch of white intellectuals who never have to live with the results of the violence they call for, when that violence has to stop, as it always does, the Revolution it was supposed to incite delayed for future opportunities.

Especially stupid are the anarchists who would have all civil authority
end, leaving communities to be governed by those who always rise up whenever the police leave, gangsters and gangsters who war with each other as they terrorize, rob and exploit the people who have no choice but to live there.  And I will repeat that, we know what would happen under anarchism because it happens in any section of a city or country where there is a vacuum of civil authority and police presence, the gangs take over.   The problem in Ferguson was that the police were a white occupation army in a black community, the answer to that is to have an effective police force which is part of the community.  It is remarkable, considering their professed beliefs, now little faith anarchists have in the ability of The People to govern themselves when that has actually, if all too rarely, happened.

As distasteful as it is to put it this way, police are absolutely necessary to a democratic community and society because stopping criminals from doing the things they want to do is necessary.  The violence that criminals use to get what they want - and in a disturbing number of cases violence is what they want  BECAUSE THEY ARE GRATIFIED BY VIOLENCE** - will only be countered by the possibility of the use of violence to stop or control them.  Violence will be there and the threat of violence to counter it must be placed in the hands of police who are answerable to the community.  Since guns are going to be carried and violence used, I'd rather take a chance on it being the police who are authorized by government have them than a bunch of thugs answerable to the most ruthless crime boss who climbed his way to the top by being the most violent and ruthless.

That was the problem in Ferguson, the police were not answerable to the community and it obviously had developed a malignant and anti-democratic, anti-community culture.  The answer to that isn't to import idiots who like violence and whose intentions are so stupid that it would replace an out of control police force with the gangsters who would replace them.   There has to be a way found to make the police what they have to be in a decent society, the responsible and so respected servants of the community.  You've got to route out the occupier thinking in the community, which is especially hard to do if there is a high crime rate. The police have to have the resources and training and oversight to do what they must do.  I don't see much of anything in the play left that will do that.

One thing that needs to be done is to make both the support from the community higher and the level of training and fitness of police match a real, professional level.  I don't think it makes any sense for police who are responsible for law enforcement, carrying a gun and being those we demand deal with everything from applying measured violence to providing compassionate care for those left on the street by the irresponsibility of the psychiatric profession to have less training than you need to be a barber or hair dresser in some states.  There is nothing better than a good, honest policeman and nothing worse than one who isn't.  We need the good ones and we need to weed out and prevent the bad ones from being police.  But that takes money and, frankly, preventing police unions from enabling the bad ones.

*  Look at the "Preamble" to their draft Constitution For the New Socialist Republic of North America.  2693 words.  And that's just the preamble!   If they came to power one of the results would be that the continent would be denuded of trees to print out their literature.

** Considering the obvious gratification of so many of these groups that violence is, risking lots of people being injured or killed in their mash ups, they're not really any different from the out of control cops.   I would challenge any of them to put their presence in Ferguson up to a vote by secret ballot.  Ultimately, that's why the police are there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

About The Murder of James Foley, Reporter

There is something terrible and strange about having even an indirect connection to someone who is the victim of such a brutal and public murder as that of the reporter, James Foley.   His parents were casual friends of my mother.  I met his mother once and knew her voice on the phone, though that was as close as they came to me.   My mother worried a lot about James Foley after he disappeared, following every news story, not a close enough friend to discuss it with his parents.  I can't claim that I thought nearly as much about him as my mother did, but often enough so that the horror of his murder is enraging and chilling.

War reporters have minds I don't claim to understand.  I can't imagine such bravery as to go into battles and dangerous situations unarmed with a warrant of objectivity.  I can't imagine how they think but they obviously are some of the most important of journalists, real journalists who put themselves in the gravest of danger, going to the bother of seeing and finding out what really happens so they can tell us.  Knowing that they could get killed and that many of their colleagues do get killed.

So often reporters are obscure, unknown,  as the idiots, flunkies and liars, the pundits, the opinion "journalists" become famous and wealthy and their every bit of affluent angst due to their onerous work schedule of one to three columns of spewage a week cuts into their leisure and social lives, the real basis of their careers as "journalists", becomes "news", itself.  They are celebrities famous for being famous for lying, not reporters, not real journalists.  It is rather obvious that a lot of the biggest names in "journalism" put more time into their dinner invitations than they do fact checking. I'm sure as I begin to see what those people say about the murder of James Foley, how they use his corpse for their political purposes and as a prop in their propaganda, those will get more coverage than his work ever did before he was abducted.

There needs to be a real distinction made between real journalists, reporters of fact, and the parasite, "opinion",  that has done so much to discredit the profession of journalism, such as what fills up the cabloids on a daily basis and the weeks greatest concentration of lies and spin during the Sunday morning talk shows.  If there is any fitting tribute to journalists who are murdered as they try to report fact, it would be to get rid of those liars and spinners.

I'm not holding my breath but I owe it to reporters who sacrifice everything to do the service to The People, informing their political choices and decisions to point out how their work and their very lives are stolen, distorted, suppressed and spun to subvert the entire reason for their sacrifice.   James Foley died in service to government of, by and for The People,  exactly the kind of thing that ISIS wants to prevent happening in the places they rule by terror.  The opinion "journalists" here who will spin his murder don't serve representative democracy, either.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Charlie Pierce Said

Intended Consequences
By Charles P. Pierce 8/19/2014 AT 5:25 PM
The Los Angeles Times followed some of the kids we deported back to Honduras. Things did not go well.

Like thousands of otsher undocumented Honduran children deported after having journeyed unaccompanied to the U.S., Sosa faces perilous conditions in the violent neighborhood from which he sought to escape. "There are many youngsters who only three days after they've been deported are killed, shot by a firearm," said Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in San Pedro Sula. 

"They return just to die." At least five, perhaps as many as 10, of the 42 children slain here since February had been recently deported from the U.S., Hernandez said.

It is now the stated position of most of the Republican party in this country, and of Republican politicians like Steve King and most of the prospective 2016 presidential field, that more children must be sent home to die this way. People should remember that.

As previously pointed out:  What The Bible Said:

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.  Deuteronomy 10:17-18

You shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.   Exodus 23:9

And if a stranger sojourn with you in your land, you shall not vex him  Leviticus 19:33

Cursed be he that perverts the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.  Deuteronomy 27:19

Thus said the LORD; Execute you judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3

The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yes, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. Ezekiel 22:29

And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, said the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:5

The Republican Party, and others in our government have the blood of those children on their hands and their blood is on ours too because we tolerate them in office.

Materialism Means Game Not Over Not Ever Progressing

In the quick and dirty new world of blogging with an undependable computer that I'm in, in the period since my morning break, I've decided I really like the metaphor of materialist atheism as a Chutes and Ladders Game with a chute on square two and a die that only has ones on it.   You can play the game as long as you want but since you undermine the intellectual basis for playing it with the rules and set up, you can't get anywhere.   

If you start out by discrediting the significance of thinking, you can't claim that your own thinking is, somehow, not covered by that.  Since I don't start out there, I suspect this idea will develop. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Summer Idyll Transcribed From Paper

I shouldn't bother reading celebrity atheists talking about their never to come-yet immanently arriving Theory of Everything, anymore.  The most fun that will be, I predict, is that they'll produce a Theory of Everything, then they'll produce another one, and another one.  I'll bet they'll run out of TOEs and still have stuff they'll have to stuff them into.

One of those things you can say to an atheist that will make them first entirely confused and, in the rare atheist who seems to be able to grasp the necessary concepts to understand the point, reduce them to sputtering rage, is to press the issues of God's infinitude, God's omniscience, God's omnipotence and the fact that people are, obviously, none of those.  The ultimate meaning of that difference is that there is no atheist talking point, no atheist argument to "prove that God doesn't exist" made on the basis of an incapacity of the omnipotent God or their frequent attempts to ensnare God in a net of paradox is irrelevant to the God of the Hebrew scriptures and the Greek canon of the Second Testament.

In futzing around with those concepts, what gets caught is not God, but the fact that the inability of human beings to understand things is broad enough to include that we just might not be able to comprehend The Mind of God*.  Which is also a concept that is contained in those scriptures mentioned in the previous paragraph.  We can't understand how an all powerful God could create a rock that was too big for God to pick up and also to pick it up but in the question, the two categories of rocks are based on limited human experience in the physical universe.  We can't pick up every rock because we, we created creatures of limited physical abilities, can't pick up every rock.  Rocks-that-we-can't-pick-up is a category describing a human inability, it has nothing to do with infinite ability.  A better question would be, can an atheist make a rock?  Can science create matter or energy, or, let's hear an atheist explain what it is that energy is.  If an atheist can't explain that, why should religious folk be required to explain things outside of any possible human experience or comprehension?  Which is an argument I can't wait to test out in the field.

And that is the real heart of those questions that atheists love to ask when the last thing they want is an answer that answers them.  They are really questions about the inability of humans to completely and universally close human understanding by means of logic.  As was mentioned here last week, and many other times before that, the simple fact is that we are constantly dealing with aspects of our most pedestrian experience we can't explain but which no one would question the existence of and be considered sane, energy, gravity, just what matter is, not to mention those other toys for considering the boundaries of conscious experience scientifically, colors.

If atheists can't do that as they make the most ridiculous claims of the completeness of human understanding of the physical universe,  demanding people who begin with an admission of the impossibility of understanding TheMind of God, explain it, is kind of absurd.   No, that's wrong, it is completely absurd.

* Yeah, I use upper case here just like I use BCE and CE, because it annoys people who are annoyed for all the wrong reasons.

Bela Bartok: Out of Doors Suite: Erzsébet Tusa: More Than Just A Musical Lesson

Part 1:  With Pipes and Drums, Barcarole, Musettes 

Part 2:  Night Music,  The Chase

I had never heard of Erzsébet Tusa before coming across these videos. Considering how many fine interpreters of Bela Bartok's music I've listened to and studied, how she could have escaped notice makes me wonder if her gender didn't have something to do with that.   The notes to the videos quotes Bartok's widow, Ditta Pásztory as saying:  "Erzsébet Tusa is a splendid pianist: she interprets the compositions of Béla Bartók, my husband, marvelously."  Considering that Ditta Pásztory was one of Bela Bartok's students, for whom he composed several of his greatest piano pieces, the Third Concerto, the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (as well as the concert version of that) and who recorded the chamber version of that in an amazing performance with her husband, she was probably the second most credible person to deliver that compliment.

Listening to these while going through the score, she doesn't seem to violate any of the written instructions while also finding things in it that I certainly never noticed in more than thirty years of familiarity with the music, I studied it while I was in college, though I never performed it.  Her playing in the Night Music, the heart of the suite, is the nearest imaginable musical evocation of being in the middle of the country, away from light pollution, with the random sounds and conversation of night creatures mixed with human feeling.  Or at least as near as I could imagine while I was hearing her play it the first time.

It makes you wonder how many other great interpreters of piano music there are as the world concentrates on the big name virtuosos, most of whom couldn't play at her level on the best day of their career.   The difference is in the submersion of ego into the intentions of the composer and the wider experience that is only possible when you don't put yourself first.

Summer Time Blues

I'm having computer trouble and only have the one computer and a serious, serious financial situation and other troubles so my blogging is 1. going to be dependent on this old beater I've got, 2. going to have to take a lower position in my priorities, for now. I can only promise to do what I can.

On the upside, I have to face it, I write a lot more than someone should and need to concentrate a bit more on quality.   But, as a thought criminal, I just can't stop having those forbidden thoughts. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Triumph of Jerry Springer

When I first went online 12 years or so ago little did I suspect that by now the medium we so wanted to believe would revive journalism would have, instead, taken its cue from the cabloids and Jerry Springer

Computer's Down

Still not going great.  I will try again later.

This is a test.

Friday, August 15, 2014

More About Sacred Harp Singing

Here is the introduction to the series of videos recording an all-day Sacred Harp Sing.  I was kind of pleased to see it also notes that Charles Ives wrote about the tradition, praising its power and exultation.  

And here is the "Singing School" video that explains some of the sight signing system, though I have to say that I believe there are a few historical errors in what the instructor says and I would never teach the tetrachordal moveable-do which works quite well for Sacred Harp repertoire but which is far less applicable in more general musical culture.   But you don't have to worry about that because those are just details, it's the music, the power and exultation that matters. 

The Stupidity of People Who Believe They Are Brilliant A Never Ending Story

Looking for something to write about, going to the bottom looking for material, there is an article by one of Alternet's atheist-click-bait artists, C. J. Werleman

Fox News Is Really Freaked Out by Atheists
The network’s customer base is afraid, and nothing in the news business sells faster than fear.\

No, it's resentment, not fear. It is one of the current lines of atheism, that their opponents are motivated by fear when what they are motivated by is atheists insulting them and insisting everyone has to bend over backward to let them have everything their way.   FOX and the right trade in resentment, something anyone who saw the political career of Richard Nixon should have understood, or would have if they bothered to hear what their opponents were saying, instead of believing what they hoped they were feeling.

The subtitle is really the most substantial part of the article, which begins with some CNN crap from S.E. Cupp claiming that the right is more welcoming of atheism than the left.  I wish.  I'd like nothing else but for atheism to find its place where it really belongs as it carries out its hate-talk campaign against the majority of humanity. But scribbling for a magazine that is nominally of the left,  Werleman has to go through the campaign by FOX to associate atheism with the left.  In that we can see one of the more disheartening aspects of politics today, the right is a lot smarter than the left when it comes to the opportunity that people who are insulted and, so, offended present.  

In this case, atheists, in their very limited numbers,  have done everything in their very limited powers to offend most people in the United States who are Christians or, at least, religious.  The role that atheists play in their own unpopularity by being such jerks is really one of the most obvious of current phenomena, no one likes someone who is insulting them.  That is especially the case when the insults are really not much above the elementary school level of calling people "stupid-heads" made by people who are so absolutely clueless that they really believe that insulting people is a good way to win them over to your side.

Really, my fellow liberals, those are the people we have taken in and allowed to represent the left,  people who think that we will win people over to our side by conceitedly insulting them and, so, they will vote with us.   Or, rather, those are the people who we have been taken in by.

It's not rocket science for the liars at FOX to make hay by appealing to people who have been insulted by "liberal" atheists, over and over again.   It's not hard to take advantage of that, magnifying real slights, inventing slights when there are none, and inventing wars against holidays.   Like virtually everything that comes from FOX, it is a lie, it is two-faced and it is a smoke screen for their real intentions, the establishment of corporate fascism in service to the richest people on Earth.  It may be their biggest lie but, since it serves the purposes of atheists, it is the one lie that FOX tells that we are supposed to believe.  And they don't have to win over a majority of the population to succeed, a narrow margin of victory in elections will do.  The Republican right, appealing to people with a sense of grievance, have played that margin game a lot better than Democrats have.  Certainly better than the left has in the past forty-six or so years.

Considering the enormous help that atheists have been for the Republican right over the decades, I'm all for S.E. Cupp leading them to their real home, the Republican party which also despises the majority of people as it games an effective margin of them to take and maintain the power of oligarchs.  I'd love for atheists to become their problem instead of ours.   Only I'm afraid that we're not going to do the smart thing and let those obnoxious jerks go, cutting them loose to lose on their own.  Not while the up and coming organs of what passes as the online media of the left is servicing their hate speech,  doing FOX's work for them.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

To Merely Remember The Holocaust Is To Deny It by Anthony McCarthy

first posted at Echidne of the Snakes February 7, 2009

For moral obtuseness THIS Pope’s aborted rehabilitation of bishop Richard Williamson sets a landmark in this monumentally obtuse papacy. Williamson’s old-line Holocaust denial not being a giant red flag in the gossipy ruling clique at the Vatican should be the conclusive proof of what Catholic critics of Ratzinger’s and his predecessor’s papacies have said, they've filled the hierarchy with careerist yes men in service to isolated men of severely limited moral comprehension. You would think that a more developed sense of morality would be the standard that a pope is held to, but that’s been missing in the Vatican for the past thirty years.

This is the second time that Holocaust denial has figured in the news since the beginning of the year, the other was in the angry and at times irresponsible reaction to Israel’s invasion of Gaza. All of this is supremely disturbing. The Holocaust is the most important formative factor of my generation’s moral culture. The consequences of the development of nuclear weapons, giving governments the possibility to produce multiple and instantaneous holocausts, might be seen as an equally important moral problem for my generation.

The generation that directly experienced the Holocaust is passing, rapidly, away. Their direct witness is entrusted to those of us who were born after it happened. It is a witness that is under increasing attack and, as the Vatican’s PR disaster shows, it doesn't seem to inform even some of those who were alive at that time. The neo-Nazis and their allies are always a danger to that witness. Their activities show why history is important, they do want to revive Nazism, they want to exterminate Jews, mostly. That fact, the fact that Holocaust denial is largely an anti-Semitic manifestation, determines how the Holocaust is seen and the nature of the response to those who deny it. In addressing that fact, I am afraid that a huge miscalculation has been made in how we deal with the fact of the Holocaust.

For all of the good reasons to remember the past, none of them is as important as how knowing what happened can help us form the present and, so, the future. If studying the Holocaust was merely a somber meditation on the crimes of the Nazis and the lives of their victims, it wouldn't be nearly as important as it really is. In our perverted intellectual values system the merely abstract is generally held in higher repute that what is useful. That is an extremely stupid attitude. Utility, held in vulgar contempt by aristocrats going back to Plato, doesn't diminish the stature of an intellectual exercise, it consecrates it with real meaning and with living consequence. It is what the murders of the victims, the criminal intent of the murderers, the resistance of the survivors can tell us to change lives now and into the future that are the real and highest honor that memory can be given. It is the highest honor to the dead, the supreme act of remembering. It removes the Holocaust from the realm of erodible letters on a monument that will eventually be ignored through habituation and makes it a living and important fact.

The assertion by some that the Holocaust is a singular event unlike any other and so incomparable, is a disservice to those who died in it. It is a disservice to the whole of humanity. There are even those who focus on the Jewish victims of the Nazis as being apart from the others. That is to some extent understandable, but it is short sighted and, in the worst cases, repulsive. The Nazis were in the business of ranking, of classifying and valuing people. Today, with the example of the entire Holocaust as a lesson, for their victims deaths to be classified in a similar manner is among the most vulgar and disgusting acts imaginable. It is a desecration not a memorial. To set that history of death, now sixty years past, apart from the genocides that preceded it and which continue today is just as much a desecration. It is to minimize the importance of other victims. It also diminishes the impact of the murders of the Jews by making them of merely parochial interest. People who claim that the genocide against them is, somehow, more important than that of another group should be unsurprised when those other groups choose to not see it that way. The memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is best preserved by seeing them as being among the larger set of victims of the Nazis and of all genocides in all of history. All of the victims of the Holocaust are our people, all of the victims of all genocides are our people.

Williamson’s denial consists largely of denying the well established figure of six-million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, citing a figure of two-to-three-hundred-thousand victims. There is a telling elision in the statement of the idea. What it really means is “aMERE two-to-three-hundred-thousand”.* Let’s learn the lesson that this grim and vulgar numbers game can teach us. How did two-hundred-thousand ethnic murder victims become of nugatory significance in the world? Consider that. Two-hundred to three-hundred thousand murders, a footnote? I seem to recall that being the estimate for another of the identified groups of those the Nazis rounded up and murdered. I’m not going to tell you which one, all of them, including Jehovah’s Witnesses** and others who are seldom mentioned in that somber roll. I suspect that Williamson’s form of numbers based denial is a warning of how the neo-Nazis will play this going forward. It is their use of how the Nazi’s murder of Jews is presented as an event that can be separated out from the rest of their crimes. Separating the attempted genocide of Jews from others might have presented the deniers with some of their present day tactics.

All genocide throughout time should be talked of as a single crime, committed by those who think they have the right to kill people based on their identity. To see all of it as a part of the same lesson, which we all have a stake in preventing and which we have a duty to apply in life is to best protect any aspect of it. That reform of our common culture is going to be mightily resisted.

Governments today, more than half a century after the Nazis were defeated, practice genocide. Governments actively support other governments that practice genocide, generally for the rankest of economic and political motives. So governments will resist both facing their own past and their present acts. Mass media are a part of this crime against history and the present. They ignore numbers of murders up to and including hundreds of thousands, one fears they would ignore numbers up into the millions again, for their own reasons. They ignore even ongoing genocides on the basis of location and ethnicity, they talk about “ethnic cleansing***” to minimize genocide when they talk about it. Americans are kept in ignorance of the huge numbers dead as the results of actions taken by our government and those they have propped up in the decades after we witnessed the concentration camps, tried and executed many of the criminals. Many of the governments who did that found it convenient to allow some of the war-time criminals to escape and escape justice due to some perverted sense of utility. There are few of us who aren't implicated in these acts of desecration to the memory of the victims of the Nazis. We are even more guilty in the genocides in the decades after we can’t use ignorance of history as an excuse.

The only way we can expunge the guilt is to face all of the genocide and to actively work to stop them now. Those who focus exclusively on the Holocaust, insisting that it is a unique event in history, even while supporting governments who have and are practicing or supporting subsequent mass murders, haven’t forgotten the lesson of the Holocaust because they’ve chosen to never learn it to begin with. The Holocaust, unless it is a living witness, one that has a determinative value in stopping the killing that is going on today, will become merely a neglected and vandalized cemetery.

* That a “bishop” could imply that hundreds of thousands of murders is of diminished moral consequence due to a lack of numbers is an indictment of his moral authority. Anyone who knew he’d said it and thought he could be taken as a religious figure is, likewise, indicted.

** I was tempted to list Jehovah’s Witnesses among other groups as a motivation to consider how we see the groups listed for extermination by the Nazis. I know that there is a temptation to rank them by group. I admit that I’m guilty of it too, though I’m trying to work my way out of it.

*** This is one of the most repulsive phrases in the English language, invented decades into the saturation of official Holocaust remembrance in the West. If there is any proof that the way we've talked about the Holocaust is entirely insufficient, it is the widespread adoption of a phrase that equates the victims of contemporary genocide with filth to be eradicated.

Update:  A point to consider is whether or not the figure of six million Jewish victims of the Nazis would be a lesser crime if that figure was less by one.  If not one, how about two?  How about reduced to the number of victims of the identified group with the next highest number of victims?  

I also recall reading, somewhere, that the Nazi hierarchy were concerned for the mental health of their Einsatz Gruppen when they were assigned to kill Jews who spoke German and "looked European" instead of those who they killed without compunction because they "looked Asian" or spoke Russian or some other language.  

The Putrid Campaign of Epic And Narcissistic Expropriation of Corpses or Nazi Thinking Here and Now

This is cross posted with my other blog because the brawl it started from is based there.

August 14, 2014 at 6:12 AM
" And let me break the news to you, Sims, you have no more of a claim to the use of those people [the victims of the Holocaust] than I do."

Sorry, Sparkles, I do. For an obvious reason.

" and, unlike you, I'm not enough of a total pig to try to use them"

Everything you've just posted here proves otherwise.

Now go do the world a favor and choke to death on a piece of matzoh.

Why would you think you have a claim on the use of the people murdered by the Nazis, or, since your comments prove that only those who were Jewish seem to matter to you, of even those people?   Because you're Jewish?  

Well, consider this, if you are going to claim some special status in regard to those murders based on your ethnicity, if you pretend that that gives their deaths some special meaning for you on account of your being Jewish, and that they can't mean the same thing to other people,  that means that other people don't have as much reason to care about those people because they aren't Jewish.   I will note in passing that you have established that you think it dishonors the memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust to bring up the non-Jewish victims of it, you clearly think you are justified in holding up those murders as more significant than other murders. 

I will be incorrect enough to point out that making that kind of a distinction permits people to not care as much, or even not at all about the murders of people outside of their identity group. 

To put it plainly, that is thinking not different in kind from that of the Nazis,  it establishes a hierarchy of value on the deaths of people according to ethnicity, and in that it places different values on different lives.  

If you believe it is all right for someone to value people of your own ethnic, or other identity group above that of people of other groups, then you don't need to care as much about those other people.  And, as an honest reading of their writing proves, that was exactly the thing that Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Thomas Huxley, Enrst Haeckel said and it was also said by a line of people asserting Natural Selection in the human populations, and the short distance in time and space up to and including those scientists who Hitler and the other architects of the Holocaust consulted.  And in the post-war eugenicists who preached the same ideas only not using the "E" word. Including such luminaries as Nobel prize winners,Watson and Crick and Shockley and even such vulgarians as Charles Murray and Robert Herrnstein.   And even some who still flirt with the "E" word, such as Richard Dawkins.  

I don't have any special claims on the victims of the Nazis, there is a difference between using them to promote a racial and ethnic hierarchy and respecting that they are all equal and equal to all of the others murdered through scientific racism and eugenics. etc.  Citing their equality is an act of respect, not expropriation.   I certainly don't have any special claims on the gay men who were murdered by the Nazis because I'm gay. 

Those people belonged to no one but themselves, they certainly didn't belong to the people who took their lives.  It is epic narcissism to think you have a right to the life of someone else.   It is especially bad to stake that claim when they've already had their lives taken by other narcissists.

Update:  Well, that's what makes me The Thought Criminal.  I think the forbidden and I say the forbidden when I think it needs saying.  And with what was said to me, I think pointing out what that means needed saying. 

Update: 2 
  1. Hey Soarky--what do call somebody who denies the centrality of the Jews and anti-Semitism to the Holocaust? It's on the tip of my tongue.
  2. Holocaust denial is the denial that the Holocaust occurred or that the Nazis didn't commit the murders of millions of people, including Jews, targeted on the basis of their identity. "Centrality" is a rather ambiguous word to use because there were a number of groups specified for murder by the Nazis and even before 1919 when the Nazis began. Alfred Ploetz, one of the major figures of Nazi science already called for the murders of the "unfit" in 1895 when Hitler was six years old. I believe he was still holding that the Jews were one of the most developed cultural groups at that time. Oh, and, for the record, Ploetz got the idea of killing off the "unfit" directly from his reading of Darwin's The Descent of Man and Haeckel's History of Creation as a member of the "Freie wissenschaftliche Vereinigung" before then. I've long wondered what another member of that group, Charles Proteus Steinmetz, made of that idea and how he thought it applied to his severely disabled body. Only people with that way of thinking always figure how to make exceptions for themselves and those they value more than others.

    Jews were targeted from the start of the Nazi campaign but they were certainly not the only group targeted for death. The scientific and industrial murders began with the disabled in 1939, as was planned at least six years before the war began. That wasn't only a practice run, that was part of a program which included The Jewish People but also included a group you've made light of, The Roma,  and the Pols and any number of others. The Nazis were merely pushing the history Darwin looked forward to when he eagerly anticipated the day when the "civilised men" would exterminate the "savages" only he thought it would be groups like the Melanesians and Fuegians before it happened among European populations. I'm only admitting that he said what he said.
Update 3: steve simelsAugust 14, 2014 at 9:16 AM
The Final Solution. To the Jewish Problem.

Repeat after me, shithead: To the Jewish Problem.

Now go fuck yourself. Royally.
You simply don't understand what the Nazis were doing and the insidiousness of treating people as if they were fitting subjects for some crude forms of mathematical logic.  
Jewish People were placed in a large subset by the Nazis, based on their biological identity.  They were part of a larger set consisting of other subsets of those the Nazis held were BIOLOGICALLY UNFIT TO LIVE, the fitting enemy in a WAR AGAINST THE UNFIT.  I'd give you the German terms for those but I'd have to look up the spellings and the effort would be lost on you.   You don't seem to care about the people forced into those other subsets who were no less the targets of applied Natural Selection, that is mass murder, by the Nazis.  So, feel free to continue to prove my point. 

The practice of placing people into those kinds of subsets reached its most malignant and influential form in the eugenics movement, which, in turn, reached its most extreme form in the Holocaust.  And there was no one more responsible for that practice than Charles Darwin who people like Galton and Haeckel credited as their inspiration, not to mention people like Alfred Ploetz and Wilhelm Schallmeyer,  not to mention people like Charles Davenport.  And, in his endorsement of Galton and, especially and most effusively, Ernst Haeckel, Darwin confirmed the validity of their claims to be carrying on with his work.  Just as Leonard Darwin did in eugenics during the decades after those two died. 

Update 4:  OK, I just checked my e-mail and I'll make an exception to doing this while I'm supposed to be working.

"Jew were merely the largest such group." 

Six million dead Jews, just a statistical anomaly.

Wow. You're an even bigger asshat than Sparky. Quite an accomplishment. 

Simels, perhaps you don't understand how quotes work.  I am looking and don't find that quote in anything I said.  I think perhaps your creative lying has gotten the better of you again.  Only there doesn't seem to be any better to you.  Though perhaps you are attributing your habits of thought to me.  Clearly, to you, people in the groups murdered by the Nazis, other than the group you identify with, are merely unimportant details, not worth mentioning and that any mention of them is an offense against you.   The problem is, Simels, that people who don't belong to your group won't, then,  feel any qualms if they also want to think of people in your favored group in the same way if they don't happen to share that identity with them. Who would you be to say they are wrong if you do exactly the same thing they do?  And that is exactly how the Nazis thought.

I would be very surprised if I said that the murder of anyone, including six million people, descended to to the category of being a "mere" anything.  That's the kind of thinking you're engaged in,  turning the other people objectified into elements of a set that is then ignored as "merely" unimportant.  That is exactly what the Nazis did to Jews as well as all of those other people, it is what Darwin did to the Tasmanian victims of a successful genocide by the British, and many other named ethnic groups whose eradication he eagerly anticipated, explicitly and by name (really, Simels, read The Descent of Man and the things he cites enthusiastically).   As I said, it is the same kind of thinking, it's merely the names and identities of who are reduced to nothing by it that are different.

Last Update:  No, Simels, you misrepresented what was said by leaving the preceding sentences out, it didn't mean what you said it did by leaving that out.   And I do not let people do that on my blog.